Julietta Jameson a guest of the Langham, Berkeley, Connaught and Sofitel St James writes about her top six hotels in london
THE RITZ LONDON
Before her death in 2013, former English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called the Ritz home. The hotel’s old world formality and proximity to Buckingham Palace keep it a favourite of royalty and world leaders. Bill Clinton remains a regular. Only in the past few years did the Ritz allow jeans in public spaces (with Clinton being an exception and denim now only allowed at breakfast) and the doormen still wear white gloves. The wealthy of China and India love it for its English pedigree and approach and for the antiques – upon which the likes of Winston Churchill sat – that remain in the venerable establishment’s suites. From £315 ($578) a night. See theritzlondon.com.
In a city spoiled for superior accommodation, the Langham manages to be a go-to. Discreet sans snootiness, luxurious without forsaking comfort and perfectly balancing style with functionality, this is a proper grown-up hotel and it’s also family-friendly. No wonder return guests include Angelina Jolie and her brood. A recent cutting-edge renovation brought the 380-room landmark into the 21st century. But it’s really all about the glow of its past – 150 years of glamorous guests have infused the Langham with undeniable magnificence. From around £250. See london.langhamhotels.co.uk.
The first thing you notice about the Berkeley is just how unnoticeable it is. The discreet entrance to the century-old hotel (moved to this location in the 1970s) is more the frontage of a handsome Georgian apartment block than hotel and its location on a quiet residential cul de sac is perfect for paparazzi avoiders. Yet it is a short stroll from the buzz of Knightsbridge. Inside, it’s a whole other story. The famed Blue Bar attracts Madonna and her cronies while uber-chefs Marcus Wareing and Pierre Koffman ensure the latest Jimmy Choos are always parked under the highly sought tables of the two in-house restaurants. From £240 a night. See the-berkeley.co.uk.
Cary Grant loved the Connaught. Despite the 19th- century beauty’s recent revamp, were he alive today, he probably still would. The antique Chinese armoires, from which he loved to mix a cocktail or two, remain in the hotel’s splendid suites and the imposing central mahogany staircase still gleams like it’s been polished by Downton Abbey’s Elsie Hughes herself. What he would make of the bright young things who crowd the hotel’s once dark and anonymous, now smart and sparkling bars is anyone’s guess. But the hotel’s plum Mayfair address and eye-watering prices keep the riff-raff out, allowing modern-day stars Bradley Cooper and Gwyneth Paltrow to enjoy the exclusivity. From £300. See theconnaught.co.uk.
SOFITEL ST JAMES
When your neighbour is the Princess Royal, dropping in for a cup of sugar is probably not an option. But life is sweet enough at the Sofitel St James, where Elle Macpherson and Dita Von Teese have laid their attractive heads. The adjacent St James’s Palace (the official address of Princess Anne) is just the beginning of the litany of landmarks surrounding this gorgeous hotel. Trafalgar Square is a short walk away, as is the theatre district, making the hotel a favourite with visiting actors and musicians. Its big-statement So Spa, one of the best in the world, is stellar on its own. From around £260. See Sofitel.com/London.
Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Katharine Hepburn all slept here. So did Bob Dylan. That was before a nearly three-year renovation glammed up the old girl. Arguably London’s most famous hotel, these days you’ll catch Britney Spears and members of Bon Jovi coming and going via the magnificent art deco entrance. Theatrical awards nights and movie promotional junkets add further star power. It’s not just the Savoy’s legend that keeps the famous checking in. An incredible location – Covent Garden to the front, spectacular views of the Thames to the rear, beautiful architecture, brilliant bars, restaurants and great service are the here-and-now drawcards. From around £330 a night. See Fairmont.com/savoy.